Is Project Management a Good Career for Me?

Project managers are in high demand. According to a recent study by the Project Management Institute, companies worldwide will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management-oriented roles by 2027. In the United States, nearly 9 million project management jobs are expected over the decade.

In short, it’s a good time to be considering a career in project management. Employers are hiring, and wages continue to rise well above the national median. But is project management the right career path for you? Let’s review the job description first.

What Do Project Managers Do?

Project managers work across multiple sectors, from business and finance, to emergency management, healthcare administration, information technology, construction management, marketing and advertising, and more. Just as each project is different, each project management role varies depending on the industry. That said, the endgame is always the same: complete project requirements on time and on budget, ensuring high-quality through project management knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques. Among a project manager’s duties include:

  • Develop and and implement the scope, schedule, and budget of individual projects
  • Assemble, lead, and manage a team of diverse skill sets and backgrounds
  • Effectively communicate within the team and across organizations to set expectations, monitor progress, meet quality standards, and achieve goals
  • Use business intelligence and data for decision-making
  • Record, track, and archive all documentation on each project
  • Implement professional business ethics throughout the project

What Skills Do You Need For a Career in Project Management?

Project managers use a wide variety of soft and hard skills. Some roles require special technical expertise, and aspiring managers may need an undergraduate or graduate degree in project management to obtain appropriate training. Still, plenty of project managers have degrees or professional experience in areas outside the field, whether it’s business, management, or any other project-based industry.

The following skills are especially important if you’re considering a career in project management:

  • Leadership: Successful project managers are successful leaders, able to assemble and manage a diverse professional team, as well as collaborate with individuals and groups outside the organization. Project managers are also responsible for team-building, talent distribution, and ensuring all members of the project are safe, treated with respect, and meeting job expectations.
  • Communication: Nearly 60% of projects fail because of poor communications. Project managers must be able to communicate effectively both within the team and across organizations. That means excellent written and verbal communication skills, with an emphasis on clarity and conciseness. Communication failures occur when directions are vague, confusing. or both. From there, the poor communication magnifies and devolves, causing the project to stall, run over budget, run over time, fail quality expectations, etc. In short, communication is key.
  • Organization: 40% of projects fail due to to lack of planning, resources, and activities. Project managers should be models of preparation. Plans need to be developed well in advance, including backup plans, fail-safes, and emergency measures. The best project managers have the foresight to predict and prepare for potential roadblocks, and have the ability to adapt and be flexible when circumstances change. Because documentation is critical, project managers all need to develop a rigorous note-taking habit, logging benchmarks, payments and invoices, and other notable events for future reference.
  • Decision-Making: Successful project managers must be able to make decision on a dime. If and when plans runs into challenges, it’s up to the project manager to develop a solution as quickly and efficiently as possible. At the same time, decision-making also means long-term strategic management. Project managers are increasingly tasked to leverage data to help decision-making, and communicating with other team members and project participants is also critical. While the final decision may come down to the project manager, the decision-making process is a combination of teamwork, collaboration, and data-driven insights.

None of the above skills require specialized training. If you meet any of the expectations, or have applied any of these skills or related skills in a professional setting, project management may be a career opportunity.

What Salary Can You Make as a Project Manager?

Of course, money is a major career determinant. Does a career in project management offer you the salary you’re looking for?

Since 2004, project management-oriented wages have increased 25% in the US and boast an 82% premium over non-project management-oriented wages. On Payscale lower-tier salaries run from $60,000 up to $88,000, but a PMI survey finds that project managers with a bachelor’s earn $111,606 a year, master’s holders earn earn $119,877, and the top 25% of project managers average a $140,000 annual salary.

What Other Jobs Are Available in Project Management

The Project Manager title may be the most popular, but there are multiple positions in the field.

Entry-level jobs include Junior/Assistant Project Manager, Project Scheduler, and Project Coordinator. Senior-level roles include titles like Senior Project Manager and Project Management Consultant, and typically require professional certification. (The PMP Credential is considered the highest, but alternative certificates are also available.)

Finally, if you’re interested in project management but want to focus on business, an MBA in Project Management can lead to a career as a Project Portfolio Manager or Director of Project Management.

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